The Filipino people are extremely hospitable and friendly and taking the time to simply smile and thank them means a lot and will get you far in whatever you need. Using some simple Tagalog is also greatly appreciated including 'salamat' meaning thank you. When speaking to older people, it is polite to include 'po' in your conversation e.g salamat po. It's rare you will encounter conflict but if you do, remain calm, relaxed and make a joke. Becoming angry or stubborn will only lose you respect. In some homes, it is customary to remove footwear before entering, although some exceptions may be made for foreign visitors. Look before you enter a home and if you see footwear near the entrance, it's a good idea to remove yours before entering.
The Philippines' official currency is the Peso (PHP), which is divided into 100 cents, known as centavos. Coins come in 5, 10 and 25 centavos and 1, 5 and 10 peso coins while peso bills are available in 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 denominations. There are 6,000 ATMS available in the Philippines nationwide and visitors may use these to withdraw funds. Major credit cards such as American Express, MasterCard, VISA and JCB are accepted in most commercial locations however some merchants require a minimum purchase in order to use your card.
Most hotels offer internet access however there are also internet cafés offering high speed broadband throughout major shopping malls and the main tourist areas. When it comes to plugging in your devices, The Philippines uses the American two-pin rectangular socket (220V/60Hz). For international dialing use 0011 + country code + area code + local number. The Philippines uses the international telephone country code of 63. Check the area code where you are staying. When trying to contact home, particularly by phone remember the time difference. The Philippines time zone is UTC +8.
As an archipelago, flights are a quick and easy way to get between the islands of the Philippines. Alternatively, there are plenty of ferry and inter-island services if you prefer to travel by water. There is also an excellent rail service known as the Philippine National Railways (PNR) which operates two intercity services overnight including the Bicol Express between Manila, Naga and Camarines Sur, and the Mayon Limited the runs from Manila to Ligao in Albay. Although the train services are a little slower than the buses, they are certainly more comfortable. Buses however, are the cheapest way to get around the Philippines. Although there are some well-maintained road networks in the Philippines and international driving licenses available for up to 30 days, it's not recommended that foreign visitors attempt to drive themselves around the Philippines as traffic can be congested and the behavior of local drivers can seem erratic to those not used to such conditions. Taxis are a great option for getting around the major cities and tourist areas and are quite affordable.
Nationals from most Southeast Asian nations are able to enter the Philippines for up to 30 days without obtaining a visa as long as they hold a current passport. Tourists visiting from overseas countries such as Australia must obtain a tourist visa prior to their arrival in the country under the Visa Upon Arrival Program (VUAP) operated by the Bureau of Immigration. Although this means visitors are not required to have a visa before arriving in the Philippines, these visas must be arranged prior to your arrival in the country. When leaving the Philippines, all visitors are required to pay a terminal fee or passenger service charge of PHP550 which is collected at the airport before you pass through immigration.